Friday, June 18, 2021

Dual-Language Learners: Indonesian and English

 Dual-Language Learners 

            People learn more than one language in a variety of ways. They might start learning two or more languages at the same time at home. They also might learn one language at home and begin to learn a second language when they attend an education in school. Indeed, the way people learn second language is not determined by age. This is because people needn’t to wait to be adult to start it. Children between birth and age five are learning language. The language which they learn can be more than one.  This raises some terms to describe how people learn language.

Friday, ‎June ‎11, ‎2021, ‏‎4:22:11 PM

        There are some terms used to describe children who are learning more than one language. One of them is dual language learners. Syrja states that in this type of programs, every student is guided learning to speak two languages simultaneously (2011, p.30). In other words, children are preserving their home language while learning the second language. This program is very useful for English Language Learners because it provides instructional practices to improve their ability to be fluent in English.  According to Susana, Brooke, and Yolanda, there must be systematic guidance to English learning which is combined with home language learning trough the same concept in order to achieve the highest achievement in both the students’ first and second languages (2008, p.4).  The benefits of this programs are that the students are able to join the learning process through language minority as well as native language. This can be deduced that dual language learners are children who are learning two languages at the same time. They learn a second language while continuing to develop their first (or home) language.

Indonesian and English

         The use of dual-language term advances the value and importance of first (home) and second language development. For dual-language learners, Passe considers that home languages are the languages of emotion, relationships, family traditions, and cultural values (2013, p.9). It means that home-language is used to communicate with families. In other words, this is one of ways to maintain their culture and connections. In addition, it is clear that home language cannot be abandoned despite children are trying to learn second language.  While the second language development also has important role in this program. Children are required to learn second language as well as learning their home language. Accordingly, dual language programs lead monolingual children become bilingual one.

Friday, ‎June ‎11, ‎2021, ‏‎4:22:11 PM

      Indonesian language is a mother language of Indonesia which is used as a means of communication among Indonesian people, both spoken and written. In fact, it plays two varieties of important role. In the formal variety, Bahasa Indonesia (BI) is mainly used in writing. According to Kridaklaksana in Kushartanti’s article, it has been propagated as a national language (2015, p.169), and ratified by the government in the 1945 Constitution. It is not only used to communicate in administration and national news media, but also used as the language of education.  Therefore, it is taught as the main subject in formal school, from elementary to secondary.

        Moreover, the informal variety lies in the using of colloquial Indonesian. Kushartanti states that it mainly used in spoken form, mostly in casual speech or semi-formal situations (2015, p.169).  Children who do not attend formal school yet, are able to speak colloquial Indonesian fluently. This is because in daily, people in their environment use it as communication language. They are also affected by the media, especially television which broadcasts children's entertainment. Thus, both children who have attended to formal school and those who have not yet, are required to learn Indonesian language in formal function. Otherwise, they are only able to use colloquial Indonesian without having deep understanding the use of the standard of their home language.

        At the same time, English also has important role for Indonesia. Because it has been used as language communication among countries, it is considered as nothing new in this modern world. According to Lauder based on Crystal’s theory (Crystal, 2003: p.67- 69), the global status of English is partly due to the number of people who speak it (Lauder: 2008). He estimates that in 2,000 people, there were approximately 1,500 million speakers of English worldwide. It consisted of around 329 million people who speak English as the first language, 430 million people who speak English as the second language, and about 750 million people who speak English as a foreign language in the countries of the expanding circle. This means that approximately one in four of the world’s population are capable of communicating to a “useful level” in English. Thus, it can be widely recognized that English is important for Indonesia.


Franco-Fuenmayor, Susana E. Kandel-Cisco, Brooke. and PadrĂ³n, Yolanda. Improving Reading Comprehension in Dual Language Programs. TABE Journal. Vol. 10, No. 1. Winter 2008.

Kushartanti, Bernadette. Velde, Hans Van De. and Martin Everaert. Children’s use of Bahasa Indonesia in Jakarta kindergartens. Wacana. Vol. 16, No. 1. 2015.

Lauder, Allan. The Status and Function of English in Indonesia: A Review of Key Factors. Makara. Vol 12, No. 1. 20 July 2008.

Passe, Angele Sancho. 2013. Dual Language Learners: Strategies for Teaching English. St. Paul: Redleaf Press.

Syrja, Rachel Carrillo. 2011. How to Reach and Teach English Language Learners. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

Written by Endang Wahyuni

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